Paul's Feed
Oct 1, 2009

GE talks to Comcast about NBC Universal: sources

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Comcast Corp and General Electric Co are in talks that could lead to the sale of part or all of NBC Universal to the U.S. cable service company, according to sources close to the negotiations.

Shares in Comcast dropped 6 percent in early Thursday trade on the news, which comes after weeks of speculation about the fate of NBC Universal, owner of the well-known broadcast TV network, theme parks, a movie studio and cable channels like Bravo, USA, CNBC and MSNBC. GE shares dropped 1.5 percent.

Sep 29, 2009

Gannett forecasts earnings beat

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Gannett Co Inc <GCI.N> forecast stronger-than-expected quarterly results, sending shares up nearly 19 percent, as cost cuts helped the largest U.S. newspaper publisher soldier through a tough ad market.

The announcement, which comes three weeks before Gannett plans to report third-quarter financial results, is rare for a U.S. newspaper publisher, and comes on the same day that the company said it was raising $400 million in debt.

Sep 29, 2009

Gannett forecasts earnings beat; shares jump

NEW YORK, Sept 29 (Reuters) – Gannett Co Inc <GCI.N>
forecast stronger-than-expected quarterly results, sending
shares up nearly 19 percent, as cost cuts helped the largest
U.S. newspaper publisher soldier through a tough ad market. The announcement, which comes three weeks before Gannett plans to report third-quarter financial results, is rare for a U.S. newspaper publisher, and comes on the same day that the company said it was raising $400 million in debt. The anticipated results pleased Wall Street, which scooped up newspaper shares that have been battered in recent years as investors bet that print newspaper publishers face a bleak future in the 21st century wired world. It also forced traders who sold short the company's shares to cover their positions, which pushed the share price even higher. Still, the bright earnings report was the result of severe cost cuts. Advertising sales, the lifeblood of newspaper revenue, remain weak, leaving the companies in the unenviable position of trying to find more ways to cut costs to keep pleasing Wall Street. Gannett's forecast suggests that newspapers' third quarter results may look much like the second quarter when publishers counted on slashing jobs, salaries, travel and every other expense to scrape together better-than-expected profits. "Gannett beat the number by a yard, all on cost-cutting," said Benchmark Co analyst Ed Atorino. "Revenues are disappointing." Investors bought newspaper stocks on Tuesday, hoping for more positive profit surprises. New York Times Co <NYT.N> rose 10 percent, McClatchy Co <MNI.N> climbed 9 percent, and Lee Enterprises <LEE.N> jumped 55 percent, making it the top performer in the Standard & Poor's 500. Gannett in October plans to report a third-quarter profit of 39 cents to 42 cents a share, excluding items, compared with the 29 cents a share that analysts polled by Reuters Estimates forecast. Revenue is another matter. The publisher of USA Today projected revenue of $1.31 billion to $1.32 billion, short of the $1.37 billion Wall Street expected -- a sign that ad spending remains below what analysts had hoped. The forecast came as Gannett announced a $400 million debt offering. A tough period for print advertising, lower revenue from its digital division, and a broadcast business trying to get by without the help of political and Olympic spending are weighing on Gannett, Chief Financial Officer Gracia Martore said. But she trumpeted Gannett's cost-cutting prowess. "Our continued efforts to achieve efficiencies and further consolidations company-wide along with significantly lower newsprint expense resulted in another substantial decline in our operating expenses," she said in a statement. This summer, Gannett laid off around 1,400 workers, after several thousand layoffs last year. Other newspaper publishers have made similar reductions. Revenue remains stubbornly depressed. Industrywide, ad sales for print and online combined fell nearly 30 percent in the first and second quarters, compared with the year before, according to the Newspaper Association of America. The declines have led many experts to predict the demise of newspapers, and some publishers, including Tribune Co <TRBCQ.PK>, filed for bankruptcy. More recently, however, newspaper stocks have rallied, as their executives have seen declines easing in coming quarters. Gannett's share run on Tuesday also reflects traders trying to balance out holdings in the stock, analysts said. Traders have sold short 49 million shares, or 21 percent of the shares, making it the most-shorted U.S. newspaper stock. That means many traders have borrowed shares and sold them short, anticipating that Gannett's stock would fall and they could make a profit on their bet. Those same traders, seeing that Gannett's shares would rise after its earnings forecast, now have to cover their bets. Gannett shares were up $1.86 or 18.6 percent at $11.84 on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday afternoon. (Reporting by Paul Thomasch and Robert MacMillan, editing by Maureen Bavdek, Derek Caney and Matthew Lewis)

Sep 29, 2009

Olympics-Games feel the squeeze from recession

CHICAGO/NEW YORK, Sept 29 (Reuters) – The Olympics are
proving a tough sell to a business world which seems willing to
miss an advertising bonanza that promises to deliver billions of
television viewers worldwide and an avalanche of goodwill.

The roster of companies foregoing sponsorship deals for the
Games is like a who’s who of advertising, among them Bank of
America Corp <BAC.N>, General Motors Co [GM.UL] and Home Depot
Inc <HD.N> have all dropped out as U.S. team sponsors.

Sep 28, 2009

Warner, YouTube near deal for music videos

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Warner Music Group and YouTube are finalizing an agreement that would allow music videos from artists such as Madonna and Green Day to once again be featured on the popular web site, according to sources close to the deal.

The deal, which one source described as imminent, would resolve a dispute over licensing rights that caused Warner Music to pull music videos by its artists from Google Inc’s YouTube in December.

Sep 28, 2009

Warner, YouTube near deal for music videos: sources

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Warner Music Group Corp and YouTube are finalizing an agreement that would allow music videos from artists such as Madonna and Green Day to once again be featured on the popular website, according to sources close to the deal.

The deal, which one source described as imminent, would resolve a dispute over licensing rights that caused Warner Music to pull music videos by its artists from Google Inc’s YouTube in December.

Sep 14, 2009
via MediaFile

The fall TV season, beyond Jay Leno

Photo

What’s that? Jay Leno is moving to prime-time? You don’t say!Frankly, it’s hard to remember the last time there was such hubbub about a TV show. It was, after all, the cover story in Time magazine. Not to be outdone, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, AP, and probably every local news outlet between New York and Hollywood had a story about the talk show host — more often than not raising the question of whether he’s going to save network TV.(You’ve got to give it to the public-relations machine on this one. They really worked the story. Of course, their spinning was augmented by a huge marketing effort. Stuart Elliott of the New York Times today estimated that NBC put out more than $10 million in promoting the show).But there is more to the fall TV season than Jay Leno. The media buyers and planners over at  RPA offer a useful road map to the season in a recent report.Their take on the fall season is fairly upbeat (maybe network TV doesn’t really need Leno to save it).”For the first time in two years, network fortunes will not be held hostage to the industry’s labor problems, but will be determined, as they used to be, by content quality and scheduling… Based on what we’ve seen, the overall quality of that content looks better than it has in the past two seasons,” the report says.Here, according to RPA, are some things to keep in mind heading into the season:

    The five broadcast networks will debut 21 shows, accounting for 22 percent of scheduling hours.
    Dramas and dramedies (a mix of comedy and drama) will increase from 43 percent to 48 percent of the schedule’s hours. Comedies will rise from 10 percent to 17 percent.
    Not a single new fall show is a foreign co-production (which had been looking like a trend until now).
    Medicine is hot, with three hospital dramas debuting this fall and a fourth starting midseason (“Trauma,” “Mercy”, “Three Rivers,” and “Miami Trauma”).
    Paranormal is big, too. Four new shows built around that theme will land this fall (“V,” “Eastwick,” “Flash Forward,” and “Vampire Diaries”).

Oh, and Jay Leno is moving to prime-time.

Sep 8, 2009
via MediaFile

Are advertisers giving Olympics the cold shoulder?

Photo

Are the Winter Olympics getting frozen out? Not exactly, but drumming up advertising and sponsorship dollars isn’t as easy as it used to be. Here’s how Andrew Benett, the global chief strategy officer of Euro RSCG, described what’s happening:  “You have a confluence of many factors happening here. One, winter versus summer. Two, a hangover from Beijing. And three, the economic times.”

Of those, the economic situation is the one that’s drawing away most of the money. Bank of America, General Motors, and Home Depot are just some of the big names that have dropped their sponsorship of the U.S. team.

Aug 10, 2009
via MediaFile

Epix nears launch date — more distribution deals coming?

Photo

Suddenly, after limited news over the past year, Epix has been very much the talk of the town in recent days. A number of publications, including Reuters, have picked up on some announcements out of the pay TV site jointly owned by Paramount, Lions Gate, and MGM.The key bit of news, of course, was the announcement that it had reached its first distribution deal, with Verizon. Chief Executive Mark Greenberg suggested to us that other deals should be coming soon — that he is talking to everybody and “some are further along than others.”This is key, in the eyes of Wall Street. Distribution deals are always a bit tricky, and even tougher in the current economic environment. But analysts want to see Epix sign a deal with one of the big players — one with a ton of subscribers. We’re talking about Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV. So far the reaction has been a little lukewarm from some of the big boys but that could just be a negotiating tactic.That aside, there have been some other relatively significant bit of news. In case you missed…

    Epix will be launching in October, though hasn’t announced an official date. Sounds like they could be planning some sort of “event” or “special” to kickstart the channel
    The epixHD.com web site, which we’ve seen, is going to launch earlier.  It’s currently in beta, and looks good. Has some of the feel of Hulu.com
    Epix, which will be home to some 15,000 films, including titles like “Iron Man” and “Star Trek” and the James Bond movies, just signed a content deal with independently owned Samuel Goldwyn Films.
    Other content deals will likely follow, but Greenberg seemed doubtful that any full, equity partners would be brought on board.
    While most pay-TV channels air films about 12 months after the hit the theaters, Epix is planning to roll its out in 9-1/2 months (helps to be owned by the studios).

Still, none of this matters all the much without distribution. We’ll keep you posted.Keep an eye on:

    In other news on Monday, Dish Network’s stock is jumping. The reason? For the first time in over a year the company added subscribers — impressive in the current climate. (Reuters)
    Bon Voyage. As expected, Microsoft has sold the Razorfish ad agency to France’s Publicis. (Reuters)

(Photo: Reuters)

Jun 22, 2009
via MediaFile

Recession? Liver transplant? Nothing bothers Apple

A good day for Apple — or a bad one? Judging from the early reaction in the stock market, investors seem to have already gotten used to the idea that Steve Jobs underwent a liver transplant two months ago,  as reported by the Wall Street Journal on Saturday. Shares of the company opened a touch higher.One reason might be that — for most investors — certainty is also preferable to uncertainty. Know the risks and you can deal with it. And until this weekend, there was very little information on the nature of Jobs’ health problems, which began in 2004. (Apple, by the way, is not commenting on the WSJ report, other than to say that the company’s leader will return by the end of the month, as planned).Another reason for the stock strength may be more basic: business looks pretty good. Apple said this morning that it had sold more than 1 million units of its newest iPhone in the first three days of its launch, a big number in the context of the current economy.  The device, which offers faster speeds, longer battery life and the ability to take videos, hit stores on Friday.So it appears it could be a good day for Apple. Or another good day, we ought to say. The stock is, after all, up 63 percent so far this year.Keep an eye on:

    Hey Wimbledon fans, IBM has a new application for you (Reuters) The Cannes advertising festival isn’t quite so hot this year, given the industry’s troubles (Reuters) You may want to sit down… media stocks are outperforming the broader stock market (NY Post)

Photo: Reuters